Its a Camera Phone World

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Camera Phones have arrived … at the 2005 Photo Marketing Convention in Orlando, Florida. World’s largest handset makers like Nokia, Samsung and others are out in full force at one of the premier events for photography business. (Nokia is introducing its new 6682 Smart Phone with 1.3 megapixel camera at the convention.) What I find amazing is how quickly camera phones have become part of the photography firmament. In less than three years, camera phones are everywhere. It is tough to find a phone without a camera. The quality of phone cameras is now heading to 8 megapixels. One megapixel camera phones are becoming as common as former Bushies writing books about the President. In 2005, over 100 million megapixel-plus imaging phones will be sold worldwide.

Why camera phones? I think taking photos is a very human reaction – we see something we want to capture it. We want to do it all the time, wherever we go. I have become click happy ever since I got the Nokia 6620, which despite not being a great camera phone, is still in my hand wherever I go. It is human desire to capture memories and instantly share them make mobile phones a perfect device to merge with cameras.

Carriers love this because it is the value added service that cusotmers want to pay for. Sprint PCS is one of the companies pushing phone photos really hard, and has been upgrading its service to make it easier for us to click-and-share-(and save) photos. “Consumers are seeing the real value in having a camera phone with them at all times to take and share photos instantly,” said Jeff Hallock, vice president – Product Marketing & Strategy, Sprint, which has 6.2 million camera phone users.

Camera phones represent opportunities for photo-industry giants like Fuji and Kodak who can try and extend their franchises to this new fast growing business. “Our research shows that 40 percent of camera-phone users in the United States have printed their camera-phone images, and another 35 percent are planning to, but haven’t tried it yet,” said Jill Aldort, consultant, InfoTrends. I suspect, the camera phones will eventually take a sizeable bite out of the standalone digital camera phone, especially as the quality of photos and lenses increases.

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